Goodness Gracious, What’s Happening During the Event

Well this is it!

Participants will be arriving at The Forks from all over starting at 3:00pm. The forecast looks insanely balmy— which could prove a very interesting challenge as those out on the trail balance soft snow, muddy patches and trying to find the right balance while trying to stay both dry and warm. We’ll be kicking off our live event coverage later today, but here are a few final pieces of information we’d like you to know about.

Hospitality House Donations



We’ll be accepting donations for Hospitality House at the Actif Epica sign-in desk (in The Forks Market Food Hall) starting at 3:00pm, and again at our finish line starting at 1pm on Saturday. Tax deductible receipts will be available for donations of $20 or more. If you prefer to donate online, please do so at Canada Helps.

Updated Spectator’s Guide

Thinking of heading out on the trail to try and spy on some of the action? Download our updated Spectator’s guide, full of interesting facts, great viewing spots and points of interest along the way.

Spectators and supporters are encouraged to follow the race by visiting checkpoints and watching along the route. As the race is self-supported, no assistance is to be provided to anyone taking part (time penalties or disqualification will result).

That said, if a participant requires assistance for safety/emergency reasons (frostbite, hypothermia, exhaustion) your help would be appreciated by the race organizers. As a spectator, please strive to be self-sufficient, too, as race volunteers are focused on ensuring the safety of racers and do not have the ability to assist others. Dress warm, bring food/ water along for the day (or visit some of the great local businesses along the route) and have fun out there!

Download the printable guide here

or download the on-screen guide here.

Green Action CentreGreen Action Centre Jack Frost Challenge || Bougeons en Hiver

Green Action Centre’s annual “get outside and travel on your own steam” event is wrapping up. They’ll be with us at the finish line, congratulating participants of the week-long challenge as well as Actif Epica participants. If you haven’t done so already (and think you’ve racked up enough KMs throughout the week, you can still sign-up).

Niverville Family Snow Day: Noon to 3:00pm

A great way to see the action along the trail! The Niverville Family Snow Day is at our mid-point checkpoint and is timed perfectly to catch some of the excitement. Come out, join the fun and play in the snow as cyclists and runners from Actif Epica race on in. The outdoor snow activities will be taking place at the Niverville Arena, from 12:00-3:00 PM. Families will participate in skating, snow shoeing, snowman building, tobogganing, snow painting and possibly quinzee building.

Hey there, Frosty Face

Or maybe there’ll be more ruddy faces. But like Actif Epica, Frosty Face Winnipeg wants to show the world that around here, we know how to get outside and have fun, no matter what the weather. They’ll be on hand to snap some pictures of our finishers, Jack Frost Challenge participants, and just about anyone else who’s around having a good time outside at our finish. Keep your eyes open, and share your own pictures on Instagram, with the tag #FrostyFaceWpg.

So there’s plenty around to do and have fun with while you follow the adventure!

More to come!

Exciting Pre-Race Meeting Venue! (and a few other updates)

Pre Race Awesome.

We are really excited about our new sign-in and pre-race meeting venue— The Forks Market Food Hall.

Our long-time Finish Line Sponsor, The Forks, has graciously invited us into their beautifully renovated Food Hall for our sign-in, gear-check and pre-race meeting. In addition to being stunning, The Food Hall lets us diversify participant’s food options on the Friday evening. With nearly 20 different delicious food vendors, Actif Epica will be providing racers with a gift card to purchase what they like. Oh, and we should mention The Common— located in the Food Hall, The Common offers a great variety of local craft beer and a discerning selection of wines. You could use your gift card there, too. We recommend ordering your food earlier rather than later to make sure you have time before the Pre-Race meeting at 7:15— the lines can get long when it’s nice out (and the entire city is working up an appetite while out skating the river trail).

Green Action Centre Jack Frost Challenge || Bougeons en Hiver!

The annual challenge from our friends at Green Action Centre stretches all the way back to our first Actif Epica. One of the main reasons we created Actif Epica was to encourage people to get outside and celebrate human powered activity in the Manitoba context, no matter what the weather. Green Action Centre loved the concept and developed the Jack Frost Challenge || Bougeons en Hiver to show that even if you aren’t especially inclined to travel 130km (our original distance) on your own steam in a single day, anyone can do it with friends over the course of a week. If you live in Manitoba, we highly recommend signing up! They’ll also be joining us at the Finish Line on the 18th to celebrate human resilience!

Frosty Face Winnipeg.

Also in the spirit of celebrating the crisp, clean climate of a prairie winter, Frosty Face Winnipeg is a new project that we’re proud to be partnering with. A photo project celebrating Winnipeg as a winter city, Frosty Face invites you to show your love of the cold by sharing pics of your own Frosty Face on Facebook and Instagram with the tag #FrostyFaceWpg.

Important Race Bible and Technical Manual Updates.

Racers: Some important details have been adjusted and posted to the 2017 Race Bible and Technical Manual. We highly recommend you go through it carefully. In particular, we’ve made some changes to the start times and to the shuttle— but there are other new details also. A list of updates can be found here, but please review the whole document. You are responsible for knowing its contents.


My First Time

Thinking of trying your first winter cycling ultra? Do it, you won’t regret it!

However, If you are serious about this— especially if you want to do the 200km ride— you need think seriously about what you are about to attempt: what does it take it to do an ultra? how fit do I have to be? what should I do to prepare? These are all very important questions to consider and you should take the time to think about them.

My first winter ultra was the Arrowhead 135 (220km) in 2012. When I signed up for that race I had a fairly good idea what I was getting myself into, because I talked to friends who had already participated in this event in 2010 and 2011. They gave me a ton of insight on what it took to be successful. I got a really good idea of what I needed to do when I went to the Arrowhead in 2011 to watch a friend compete— what I saw made me take my preparation for my first attempt at a winter ultra seriously.

Ride. Ride. Ride.

I saw that it was hard, much harder than any summer ride that I’d tried. So the first thing I did was ride— a lot. Even before my entry was accepted I ramped up my winter riding, I rode every chance I could. Whether it was only for a couple of hours or for a whole day, I was riding my bike. This did two things: it got me ready for the race physically, and it let me test my gear to see if it would work in the cold temperatures.

I learned that training was especially important in cold weather. You need to ride in the cold, in the wind, and in the snow to know the effort it takes to ride a long time and distance. I rode a 12 hour race in fall (End Tombed). I rode every weekend for a minimum of 4 hours and often longer, and I rode at least a couple of times during the week. I rode to my family Christmas gathering which was a 145km trek. All of these things helped me get physically ready for my first winter ultra.

Riding in the cold for long times and distances also let me see how my bike handled the cold weather. I found out that my bike did work in the cold. It shifted and braked properly, and those rides let me test to see if my freewheel would freeze open. This was important because it gave me the confidence that my bike would perform when it came time for the race, especially after having seen others who’s bikes failed them out in the cold.

Figuring out what to wear.

Riding in the cold also let me test my clothing. I got to know what combination of jackets, base layers, and footwear would keep me warm and comfortable. I had to make sure that I had the right clothing for the longer distance rides. The wrong combination of clothing means you get could get cold from either too little protection or from too much. Because if you overheat, you sweat too much and you’ll get cold from that. You need to figure this out. It’s important. I have seen more than enough cases of frostbitten hands, feet and faces— you definitely want to avoid frostbite. Thankfully I have not seen a case of hypothermia— very cold people, yes, but not full blown hypothermia. Don’t be the first one I’ve seen.

It is also important to test your hydration and feeding systems. You need to make sure to keep your water from freezing, you may not get as thirsty as you do on a summer ride but staying well hydrated in the cold helps you keep warm on your ride. You need to test your food and your ability to get at the food when you are out in the cold. Not only that but you need to be able find the right food that doesn’t freeze solid and become too difficult to eat.

Testing 1,2,3…

Finally, practicing several possible scenarios that could happen during the race was also very important. I would do things like ride for a couple of hours, stop, let the air out of one of my tires, take the tube out put it back in and inflate it again, so I could continue riding (this was also a test of my pump to make sure that it too would work in the cold).This gave me the confidence that I could do this if I had to on a ride.

I also tested my ability to be able to get into my survival setup when it was extremely cold out. To do this I rode for 3 hours on an evening when it was -30. After riding for the 3 hours I stopped in my brother’s back yard to see if I could safely get into my sleeping bag (carrying a sleeping bag is a requirement for Arrowhead). I did this in a backyard because I wanted to make sure that I safe out in case things went wrong – they almost did. At first I felt warm and was not in too much of a hurry, I was surprised by how quickly that changed. It started when I could not get my sleeping bag out of the compression sack, the coldness made it difficult. By the time that I finally got everything out and set up (sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and bivy) I was starting to shiver and my hands were getting really cold, by the time I got into the bag I could barely do up the zippers because my hands were so cold – I learned a lot from this experiment, especially what it takes to be safe.

All winter ultras are unique and difficult – the weather, distance, and the terrain you need to navigate make each winter ultra different. The most important thing you can do is to take time to prepare for event, make sure you are physically ready , that your equipment works, your gear is sound – take the time to ride and practice your skills and gear, doing this will make for a rewarding ride.